MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed sadness over Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III’s decision to leave the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), but hinted that all is not lost.
In an interview with ANC, Binay said “I’m sad, but that’s his decision and I respect his decision.”
Nonetheless, he said “we will still talk when I come home.”
Binay is currently in Saudi Arabia to convey the Philippines’ condolences on the passing of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud. He will arrive July 7.
Pimentel earlier told reporters he will run in the 2013 elections without the help of UNA, which was the coalition that his party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) formed together with the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
This was after UNA insisted it will not be dropping his rival, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, from the coalition senatorial slate.
Pimentel believes Zubiri benefitted from poll fraud in 2007. Zubiri eventually resigned from the Senate to give way to Pimentel.
Binay said Pimentel will now become an “independent PDP-Laban.” He said: “Let us separate the personality of Senator Pimentel and the party.”
He said PDP-Laban will remain committed to UNA.
In a separate interview with reporters, one of the coalition’s leaders promised to extend his help to Pimentel if asked.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, an officer of the PMP, said, “if he wants my support, I will help him as much as I would help the others without abandoning my obligations to my party and my coalition.”
He said he will still endorse Pimentel’s candidacy. “Why not? We can endorse multiple candidates. It depends upon the people.”
Nonetheless, Enrile does not see UNA’s line-up getting affected by Pimentel's exit.
“Hindi kami mawawalan. Kaya lang senator na sya, and he has a good standing in the service. We have to accept the fact that he will be a loss to us because he’s already a senator and he’s within the possible 13 winners,” he said.